Kevin Harvick Stays Clean in Martinsville

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Kevin Harvick Stays Out Of Trouble At Martinsville, Keeps 2011 NASCAR Chase Hopes Alive

Oct 30 7:47p by Jay W. Pennell

Kevin Harvick may have won the spring race at Martinsville, but the Richard Childress Racing driver stayed relatively quiet Sunday afternoon and ended the day with a solid fourth-place finish.

Surviving the hard-fought battle, Harvick gained ground on the championship lead, moving within 21 points of Carl Edwards to third in the Chase standings.

“It was definitely a battle; everybody was driving hard,” he said. “That is what you are supposed to do here at Martinsville. I know the guys did a good job making the cars better and we got good track position.”

Harvick pointed out it was difficult to make up ground restarting in the outside lane, thanking teammate Jeff Burton for letting him to the bottom on the final restart.

“(Tony Stewart) was really the only one that could make any ground on the restarts and that is what won him the race,” he said.

Crew chief Gil Martin called the team’s effort a “pretty good day,” but was looking for longer green flag runs at the end of the race. Martin said they did not do a good enough job keeping up with the changing track conditions, as the car tightened up too much late in the race.

“We weren’t very good on the very short runs,” he said. “If we would have had 10 or 12 straight laps right there, we could have had a couple of more spots. We were as good as the 14 (Stewart) on those runs, the 24 (Jeff Gordon) and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) were a little better.  All in all, coming out of here fourth, I’ll take that right now.”

Sitting 21 points out of the Chase lead with three races left in the championship, Martin is “very positive” about the No. 29 team’s chances to climb back into the title hunt.

“The next three races are good tracks for (Kevin),” he said. “What do you do? Just play it out and see what happens, that’s all you can do.”

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